MURFREESBORO – Goodpasture didn’t get off to the best start in the 2015 Class A state volleyball tournament, dropping its opening-round match to South Greene on Wednesday, but the three-time defending champion Lady Cougars more than made up for it.
Goodpasture (45-11), making its fifth straight championship appearance, proceeded to string together four consecutive victories, including Friday’s 3-1 title match triumph over South Greene, to secure the school’s fourth consecutive Class A state title.
“We made it very dramatic, but I think that loss at the beginning helped us realize that it was all or nothing,” Goodpasture senior said Lou Phillips said. “We knew this was all we had left, ‘We can’t lose again, we have to come out fighting in every game,’ and that’s what we did.”
“I just think coming out of the loser’s bracket showed our true character and the mental and physical toughness that our kids have,” added Goodpasture coach Lynn Dearing.
Phillips, who received Championship MVP honors, finished with 27 assists and 24 digs to lead the Lady Cougars, while the 5-foot-5 senior setter also contributed 10 kills.
“We know how to play against teams with really good hitters like (South Greene’s Taylor Lamb), and we just stepped up to the plate today,” Phillips said.
Goodpasture coasted to a comfortable 25-14 win in the first set, but South Greene turned the tables in the second, securing a 25-15 victory to knot things up at 1-1.
The Lady Cougars once again claimed the upper hand with a 25-21 third-set win before ultimately sealing the match with a 25-13 triumph in the fourth and final set.
“We try our best not to be surprised when we get here, but we did not anticipate having to come out of the loser’s bracket,” Dearing said. “Their backs were against the wall, and every single time when their backs have been against the wall this season they’ve come through for me.”
Goodpasture Bailey Clemons finished with a team-high 27 digs in the win, while senior Jennifer Rochelle added 23.
“The whole season it was a struggle for not only me, but (fellow senior) Jennifer Rochelle,” Phillips said. “This is our fifth year playing together, and we’ve been to state every year … The whole season there was a bunch of pressure, but these last few days we pulled through.”
Lamb and teammate Kenzie Schmaltz each tallied 17 kills to lead South Greene (45-3), while Braelyn Wykle finished with 41 assists and 20 digs.
Reach Michael Murphy at 615-478-2481 and on [email protected]_TNsports.